The first Southeast Europe Aviation Summit (SEAS), organized by Tango Six Events, opened today with remarks from Sinisa Mali, Chairman of Supervisory Board of Air Serbia and Mayor of Belgrade, and James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group. The summit is supported by Sabre Corporation and Air Serbia.
Addressing over 320 delegates from around the world and more than 60 leading regional and international aviation companies, Sinisa Mali stressed: “The strategic Air Serbia-Etihad partnership – forged on the premise that a powerful national airline is vital for trade, tourism and economic growth – is a signature achievement and I am personally very proud of it. The Serbian workforce is second to none and our partners from Etihad have recognized that by creating 600 new jobs in Serbia and by employing another 300 people in Abu Dhabi.”
Talking about why the equity partnership strategy works and brings beneficial synergies to Etihad Airways and its partners, Hogan praised Air Serbia’s evolution as an airline turnaround unmatched in history: “With 20 aircraft, 500 weekly flights and 2.5 million passengers last year, Air Serbia is a leading boutique airline in Europe. This year we reached the strategic milestone of being the only airline from Southeast Europe to fly to the U.S. What matters even more is that Air Serbia is profitable and contributes to ever greater revenue from inbound tourism.”
Talking at the C-Suite panel dedicated to the aviation industry outlook in SEE, Dane Kondic, CEO of Air Serbia, and Michalis Kouveliotis, CFO of Aegean Airlines, stressed the importance of code share partnerships and adapting to rapid change in the industry. Talking about key milestones for Air Serbia, Dane Kondic pointed to the launch of Air Serbia’s direct New York flights, which generated over 60,000 guests since June 23, 2016: “That is an incredible result and we are pleased this route happened at the right time for us. Air Serbia is fortunate to have a very dedicated and results-focused partner in Etihad Airways. The advantages of our synergies are very tangible and visible in the training, aircraft maintenance, cost control and customer service excellence we are able to offer to our guests each day,” concluded Kondic.
Also on Day 1, Jakob Funkenstein, Regional Director of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, gave an exclusive overview of the company’s regional and global market outlook – paying special attention to the market today and over next two decades. “Boeing recognizes this region as one of major importance,” Funkenstein said. He pointed out that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for commercial air transport in Southeast Europe exceeds the wider European average. He cited uneven economic growth as the biggest challenge facing the industry not only in the region, but globally.